The word "biodiversity" is a contracted version of "biological diversity". The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as:"the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems." Thus, biodiversity includes genetic variation within species, the variety of species in an area, and the variety of habitat types within a landscape. Perhaps inevitably, such an all-encompassing definition, together with the strong emotive power of the concept, has led to somewhat cavalier use of the term biodiversity, in extreme cases to refer to life or biology itself. But biodiversity properly refers to the variety of living organisms.

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Harvard University, Editor; E.O. Wilson; Commission on Life Sciences; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Academy of Sciences/Smithsonian Institution

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Although he is known primarily as a biologist, Edward O. Wilson spends a lot of his time in his latest book talking like an economist.Dr. Wilson, a tenured professor at Harvard specializing in the study of ants and their social systems, has won the Pulitzer Prize twice for previous books. One was about ants and one was about human nature.In The Future of Life, Dr. Wilson takes up one of the most hotly debated issues of our times: the importance of protecting and preserving the earth's biological diversity.And, knowing that he faces many who argue that human progress and economic development are more important than going the extra mile to protect a few endangered species, Dr. Wilson spends considerable time calculating just how much monetary value humans derive from healthy ecological systems, which he says are reliant on diversity.

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